Matt Hancock arrives in Downing Street in May 2020 (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Twitter, once a pillar of the social media landscape, continues to circle the drain as new owner Elon Musk makes sweeping and controversial changes to the platform.
At this point, it seems only a matter of time before the blue bird and its followers go the way of the dodo, and as things look increasingly dire, former users have been looking for alternatives to jump to.
One of the major beneficiaries so far has been Mastodon, not one platform per se, but instead a collection of servers, with users able to sign up to ones based on their interests or hobbies.
But another app that seems to be hoovering up some of Twitter’s ex-users is that of Matt Hancock, and his imaginatively named ‘Matt Hancock MP’ platform.
Yes, as Hancock tries his best to make friends in the I’m A Celeb jungle, back home his obscure digital platform seems to be picking up pace. Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is the ‘Matt Hancock app’?
Before Matt Hancock was the UK’s disgraced health secretary, he was the head of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, and took his work so seriously that he had his own mobile app created, titled ‘Matt Hancock MP’.
The app launched in 2018, with a goal to let residents of Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency "engage" with their MP. At launch, it was reported that the app did not adhere to the data protection regulations Hancock was promoting in his day job.
“The app seems to be swamped with lobby journalists and people (possibly the same lobby journalists) pretending to be other politicians,” reported The Register.
“There’s at least one Donald Trump, a Boris, an Ed Balls (whose contribution, predictably, is “Ed Balls”), as well as a couple of Liz Trusses flagging up cheese import and pork product news.”
They added: “A Jeremy Corbyn is asking ‘a/s/l’ [age/sex/location] and MattHancockFan69 is chatting with LizTrussFan123UK.”
Why is it becoming popular?
Six years on, The Wall Street Journal has reported that the app currently has over 243,000 users, only 200 of whom actually follow the MP, who resigned as health secretary last year after being caught on camera having an affair at work, violating his own Covid-19 social distancing guidelines.
According to the WSJ, sarcastic Twitter users are using the app to flee the Elon Musk-shaped storm that has enveloped the internet’s "town square." The app seems to function as a Twitter substitute, with one user calling it “the closest thing to an actual Twitter clone I’ve seen so far.”
Aside from the homepage, which looks similar to what you’d see if you followed the MP on any other social media site, there’s the "Have your say" page, which acts as a news feed, showcasing what other users have written.
Another user, going by the alias ‘Andy Parmo’ added, "Just setting up my Matt Hancock," a reference to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet.
The WSJ and other media outlets are being slightly deceptive in suggesting that the Matt Hancock MP app is growing in popularity solely because of Twitter “refugees”.
In actuality, the real reason Hancock’s app is accruing subscribers is more likely down to the fact that the MP is in the Australian jungle eating bugs and kangaroo genitalia as part of hit ITV reality show, I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!
How do I access the app?
There are likely dozens of West Suffolk locals who signed up for Matt Hancock’s app to stay up to date on local matters, only to have it become a meme.